How Does Media Affect Children

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Family Viewing
A report on parents, children and the media
by Lucy McCarraher
for the Parenting Education & Support Forum
in association with the NSPCC, Family Circle magazine and Glasgow Media Group Parenting Education & Support Forum
The Parenting Education & Support Forum brings together those concerned with or working in the field of preparation, education and support for parents. It promotes and maintains a high profile for parenting education and support, where education means learning in the fullest sense: of growing in knowledge, skills, understanding and personal development. The Forum presses for effective policies and practice at local and national level – with the aim of serving the best interests of all children and their families. The Forum’s five working groups – on training and accreditation, media, research and evaluation, inter-agency collaboration, and parenting education in schools – explore current issues and develop guidelines and projects. Regular seminars provide the opportunity for debate and information exchange.

A quarterly newsletter published by the Forum features articles on issues of practice in work with parents and families, book reviews, information on research and evaluation and on forthcoming events and conferences.

Produced by National Children’s Bureau Enterprises Ltd, the trading company for the National Children’s Bureau, 8 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7QE. Registered Charity Number 258825 © Parenting Education & Support Forum, September 1998

Printed by MCP Litho, London.
Family Viewing
A report of the research project into
parents, children and the media
researched and written by
Lucy McCarraher
study initiated and managed by
Eileen Hayes, Parenting Advisor, NSPCC
and Chair, Parenting and Media Working Group,
Parenting Education & Support Forum
survey questionnaire devised by
Lucy McCarraher, Greg Philo, Glasgow Media Group
and Gillian Drummond, Family Circle magazine
survey analysis by
Glasgow Media Group
survey questionnaire published in
the May 1998 issue and results published in the
November 1998 issue of Family Circle magazine
published by
Key messages
Children and the media
Parents and the media
1. Children and the media
Pressure to buy
Influencing behaviour and attitudes
2. Parents and the media
Television and radio
Magazines and newspapers
Role models
Wish list
3. Conclusions
The media and children
The media and parents
4. Recommendations
To Government
To broadcasters and publishers
Methodology and sample
Researcher and author
I have never had any doubt about the power of the mass media to shape attitudes and possibly even influence behaviours. I have experienced many times the impact on the public of a radio or television appearance, translated into enquiries and requests for information. I have been involved over the past few years in trying to persuade the media to carry more information and support for parents, as a writer and frequent broadcaster in the field, in my role as Parenting Advisor to the NSPCC and most recently as Chair of the Parenting Education & Support Forum’s Media and Parenting Group. This working group, one of several in the PESF, was launched in 1996 by a seminar at the NSPCC which was well attended by representatives of all sections of the media.

It seems that many working in the media (particularly television), are of the opinion that the subject of bringing up their children is of little interest to parents and almost entirely limited to the concerns of mothers of very young children. Unlike gardening, cookery, sex, driving or DIY, their argument runs, parenting has no recreational aspect, mothers and fathers learn on the job, don’t want to be told how to do it, and the very word ‘parenting’ is a turn-off, instantly equating to low...
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